My research is concerned with relationships between humanity and human
environments and how new modes of democratic governance may be able to
help humans improve the quality of these relationships.
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PROJECTS: Katharine N. Farrell
One of the major learning outcomes from the ALIVE research is that there is a lack of
suitable criteria and assessment tools available for judging what constitutes good quality
interdisciplinary sustainability science methods.  I have begun collecting references on
the topic and am preparing, at the moment, a sort of inventory of progress and gaps in
the literature (coming soon, hopefully).  I have also begun to develop a variety of
research proposals for conducting empirical study of sustainability science research
groups, specifically with a view to understanding their methodologies.
Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA)
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain
Current Affiliations
Division of Resource Economics
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy
Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
... in Progress
taking interdisciplinary sustainability science methodology as an empirical research topic
ALIVE: Accountability and Legitimacy of Governance Institutions that support Viable
Environments
    EU FP6 Marie-Curie Intra-European Fellowship (contract #: EIF – 024688)
    Jan., 2006 - Oct., 2008
The aim of the ALIVE research was to make use of the wealth of empirical
environmental management data and analyses available at the
Umweltforschungszentrum
(UFZ), in order to develop a better picture of the relationships between the various
perspectives that contribute to local, regional, national and EU level environmental
governance and land use policy decision-making. In the ALIVE research direct empirical
study of the policy oriented and inter-disciplinary character of selected UFZ research
projects (in particular one including collaborations between natural and social scientists)
provided the exceptional foundation developing new understanding of how the various
(often disparate) perspectives contributing to policy oriented inter-disciplinary
participatory science projects co-operate in the work of responding environmental
management challenges associated with situations such as flood management, brownfield
site rehabilitation and contaminated land remediation.
... Completed
Making Sense of Science in Society: considering the downstream consequences of
upstreaming
  Nov., 2005 - Jan., 2006
This Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded Workshop took place at the
Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. The objective was to facilitate a deep and
thoroughgoing discussion of the theory and praxis implications associated with
implementing the upstreaming of public participation (from the decision making to the
problem definition stage) in the production of scientific research and scientific
knowledge.  The aim was to draw out from this discussion a set of practical
recommendations for how existing UK (and EU) scientific research and political
governance structures can be supported to help ensure that upstreaming can mean
better science and better governance.  Reflections and conclusions from the Workshop
were presented as an ESRC report.
As a small part of the European Union funded Integrated Project Thresholds of
Environmental Sustainability (Thresholds), a four month long endeavour was undertaken
to make sense of the vast array of diverse materials generated over the course of that
four year long ecological economics oriented research. In the Thresholds project both
ecological and economic dimensions of regime shifts in coastal ecosystems were formally
studied, with a view to: 1. developing general theory concerning thresholds and 2.
providing policy advice regarding strategies for the avoidance of undesirable regime
shifts in coastal ecosystems and the creation of desirable ones (generally with the aim
of returning a collapsed system to an earlier stability state that was either more
desirable to the local community or deemed to be more natural or desirable from a
conservation point of view).  A Working Paper was prepared during this four month period
reflecting upon some of the methodological and theoretical challenges that have come up
in the course of carrying out the complex inter-disciplinary work of the project.   
Academically, this paper is intended to contribute toward a still small but steadily
growing body of ecological economics theory that supports the development and
application of what Giampietro and Mayumi (2001: 2) have called the fourth requisite
ability of ecological economics: to describe, understand and engage with the processes
through which humans translate understandings of the predicament of sustainability into
collective action.
- Giampietro, Mario, and Kozo Mayumi. 2001. Integrated assessment of sustainability trade-offs:
Methological challenges for Ecological Economics
. Presented at the High Level Academic Conference
Frontiers in Ecological Economics. Cambridge, UK.
THRESHOLDS Thresholds of Environmental Sustainability
    EU FP 6 Integrated Project (contract # 003933)
    Nov., 2008 - May, 2009
Time and Tradition in the Works of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen
  May - Jul., 2006
This Short-term Visiting Post-Doctoral Researcher visit,  funded by the Japan Society
for the Promotion of Science - JSPS, in cooperation with the Royal Society of the United
Kingdom, facilitated a three month intensive theory research project carried out in
collaboration with Prof. Kozo Mayumi at the University of Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan.  
The aim of the research was to develop new ecological economics theory concerning the
relationships between time and tradition in the works of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s
flow/fund model of economic production.  This work resulted in the creation of new
understanding that provides a basis for interpreting the later works of Georgescu-
Roegen as the elaboration of a general theory of economic production which requires the
simultaneous application of arguments concerning the structure of his analytical flow
fund model and the procedures involved in delimiting that model.
Making Good Decisions Well: A Theory of Collective Ecological Management
Sept., 2002 - Dec., 2005
The point of departure for this PhD thesis, written at the Institute of Governance,
Public Policy and Social Research of Queen's University of Belfast, was a critique of the
practice of assigning monetary values (e.g. shadow pricing, contingent valuation, travel
costs measures, etc.) to ecological phenomena (monetary valuation) to achieve policy
relevance for ecological considerations (e.g. via cost-benefit analysis, Pareto
assessments, etc.).  In order to carry out this critique, a set of analytical criteria were
developed, which specify necessary but not necessarily sufficient conditions that must
be met in order to speak about the economic worth of ecological phenomena.  These
criteria are based on a description of ecological phenomena as living systems, and
explicitly classify human beings, their communities, perceptions and social institutions,
as parts of the complex, multi-dimensional system of life on earth, comprised of
multiple, inter-dependent, life related sub- meso- meta- and supra- systems.  

In
Making Good Decisions Well, it is argued that, due to the specific characteristics of
living systems, it is not only inaccurate (the traditional analytical critique of monetary
valuation) but also counter productive to represent the economic worth of priceless
ecosystem goods and services through monetary valuations.  This argument is advanced
by developing an evolutionary theory based, analytical critique of the pragmatic defence
of monetary valuation.   Using these same living systems criteria, deliberative
democratic discourse is then evaluated as an alternative process for articulating the
economic worth contributed by ecological phenomena and is also found lacking.  A
speculative normative theory of epistemologically complex, inter-disciplinary
deliberative democracy is then proposed as an alternative basis upon which it may be
possible to build new democratically legitimate environmental valuation procedures that
can support epistemologically complex, empirically robust articulations of the economic
worth of priceless ecological phenomena.
Having observed one-dimensional thinking throughout the practices, communities and
institutions carrying out 21st Century interdisciplinary environmental science research,
I am writing and working to identify new ways of writing multi-dimensional critiques of
currently prevalent inter-disciplinary science methods and institutions in an effort to
identify ways of doing science that may prove more useful for addressing problems of
anthropogenic climate and habitat change.  Current empirical topics being studied include
inter-disciplinary climate and habitat change research projects as well as de facto
inter-disciplinary collaborative situations such as the scientific basis for recommending
the eviction of indigenous peoples from areas designated for protection under the
international Convention on Biodiversity.
writing Critical Theory
Like many other indigenous peoples throughout the world, the Parakuiyo Maasai of
southern Tanzania have recently lost their education infrastructure, which is the
grassland within which they live, due to a combination of environmental conditions and  
political decisions that led to their eviction from the Usangu plains region.  In losing the
physical geography of their history, spirituality, pharmacology, and livelihood, the
Parakuiyo and many other indigenous tribes throughout the world now stand in danger of
losing their unique identities and collective wisdoms because these are embedded in and
based upon their relationships to their biophysical contexts.  And the global community of
humanity stands in danger of losing access to the accumulated wisdom of thousands and
thousands of years of human experimentation, learning and discovery.  
I am working with Adam Kuleit ole Mwarabu, a Junior Elder of the Parakuiyo Maasai, to
develop a new type of school, where his tribe can teach Maasai children, and eventually
hopefully also scholars and other interested individuals, the endangered indigenous
knowledge of his people.  It is our hope that the Maasai Shepherd School may serve as a
precedent and coordinating point for establishing similar schools in other places.
The Shepherd School